Preservation/Transformation

Courtesy of MorticiaManson.com
I want, first of all, to thank this lady for the use of her "Frozen Charlotte" photo.  I have               one too, and mine is a little different, having wings and no body, but a head and a flat
piece of metal with a piece of writing paper inside so that a message of condolences
could be given to a parent or relatives who had lost usually a child or baby.  These
Frozen Charlottes were a late Victorian art form for Children mostly and they had bodies
with solid forms and no movement at all. The fad lasted into the 1920's, but the idea
of people preserving memories of children that had died very young or perhaps were
stillborn persisted into the 1950's.  One of my best friends had a photo taken holding
her stillborn baby, I am sure something she would always preserve.

A friend with stage 4 cancer made mine for me and for years it has sat on the edge of
a ledge with my collection of angels and beautiful crosses.  I am spiritual, but I
don't attend churches, and I have always loved these things.  But for years, these lovely
things in my collection have sat protected on shelves and on top of a shelf and hanging
on the wall.  They sat there, inanimate and going largely forgotten but still loved,
as happens with many of our collections. 

As I took them down one by one to pack up to go to our new home, a transformation
began to take shape in my mind.  I intend to put my Frozen Charlotte and all the birds
of all kinds I have collected for years into my peach tree, where they can move with
the breeze and bring life to the area.  As for my angels and crosses, I intend to put them
up on a high cement wall behind our home that separates us from neighbors way
above us.  It will become my Garden of Angels, and when one of our beloved pets
passes on, I will have a box to put it in and bury it there and it will have an angel or a cross above it.  In this way, I can keep my family with me, and someday when I pass from
this plane, I told my significant other, Richard, to put a cross down near my family for me
too.  I am donating my body to Life Science, and I really believe in that, for it will be used
for study if not for replacement parts for others, and when they are through studying
or using it in important ways, they will cremate it at no charge for me.  Richard will
do the same, and if a person is a male or female vet, they can have their ashes transferred
to a VA cemetery. I have their number and they come and pick up the deceased at no
charge to anyone.  In this time when life is changing so much for all of us, perhaps one
of the best ways we can manage is to find ways to help others.  I am glad to see that happen.  

Something about transforming things into a sort of living "Garden" really appeals to me. 
Over the years, I have received a lot of bullying from grade school to being a senior,
but I am letting go of that too as my personal transformation.  Like my Garden of
Angels, I want to live a life free of unnecessary worries and anger at others for having
power over me.  No one has power over me except me, myself, and I.  I am ready for
the future and whatever comes from it.  Being a lifetime victim serves no one, and
definitely not me.

Some of my goals right now are to become a volunteer for CASA (Court-appointed
Special Advocate) for foster children.  I just finished reading two books I could
not put down by David Pelzer, who was one of the worst cases of child abuse
to ever happen in California, and I have read another tragic story of another foster
child who became a victim of the system, which happens often.  If I were not older
than dirt, I would definitely become a foster parent myself, but since I am a senior, I
will be an advocate instead.  I have already done my training and they have advocates
in every state almost.  I also want to become a volunteer tutor again for special needs
children and young adults and ESL students, as well as illiterate adults.  And I want
to finish some of my art projects to donate to worthwhile charities.  There are so many
needs today, so I feel that is the best use I can make of whatever art I can finish.  And
I want to finish a book I am compiling of all the poetry I have written over the years
and hopefully benefit some worthwhile cause with my earnings.  Having goals
in life is important.  Whether we can realistically finish them all or not, the key
is to have goals and dreams to reach for as we go forward in time. 

You all likely will not hear from me again until we are through moving and I think
we take possession of our home on the 29th, but whether we have our computers
hooked up or not is unknown right now.  Because we are just moving in, we have
to show proof of our title and our ID but they say they can turn everything on
in one day.  We will see.  It will all work out and things tend to do.  Love and
hugs to you all always,  Anne

Empowerment

Courtesy of Quotefancy

I was thinking this past week that I have always felt powerless in the presence of people who seem to have more power than I do. I know, this may sound silly, but when you grow up with people who have absolute control of your everyday life and not in healthy ways, it is easy to lose a sense of your own power.

In my case, Richard and I live in a senior mobile home park owned and run by the most evil people I have known for a long time, though I must admit they are not the first ones. In fact, every senior mobile home park I have lived in has been a senior’s worst nightmares. And yet, for many seniors it represents a place that may be affordable on a limited income, as well as having neighbors in your social and economic position. It may represent safety and well-being where there are people close all around you who will surely know if you are in danger or you are perhaps ill. And there is usually a “clubhouse,” where there are monthly activities – perhaps coffee and donuts on the day you pay your space rent, and potlucks at different times of the month. And with things such as we are going through now throughout the world, it can represent a kind of sanity when all else is failing us.

So how could anything like this not be a senior’s dream? But let’s take a good look at what happens with a great many parks, for sure the ones in my own town of Yucaipa, CA (in San Bernardino County within the Inland Empire of Southern California). Looking at the history of the parks here (and this is true in many places in the U.S.), one of the things we have here are people who come into the area, knowing very little if anything about the needs of seniors. It is a cheap investment by the standards of those who buy the parks. They skirt any rent control that might exist in an area, coming in intending to raise the rent “for improvements they are making or going to make.” The reality is that the City itself has very little control (and does not want the involvement with having to be saddled with making sure things are working right). They have other more important needs. The park owners are bringing money into their communities, and they don’t want to stop that development. They spend their energy creating more sophisticated and luxurious communities that bring more money into the community and they cannot be really blamed for that. All communities want to keep improving their communities; it is all about good business.

The first issue that mobile home residents have no say-so in is the hiring of park managers. There is no background check required, no real experience necessary (they are trained for a very short time).

Basically there are no requirements by the HCD (Housing and Community Development) which is part of the state government, supposedly charged with protecting the rights of mobile home residents including making sure that that those who purchase their homes and pay them off get their titles when that process is done. The reality is that this HCD has never been given proper legal authorization to make sure things go smoothly for the residents, and as a results, landlords such as the ones I have will wait until the home owners die while they still are trying to get their titles. And most seniors don’t know fully their rights or the way things work.

Most seniors are unwilling to do what they need to because of fear that the owners will take revenge on them or they are too ill or perhaps disabled to try to do anything. My home was sold to three other seniors before me, and all of them died without ever getting their titles. Of course I could not have known this when I purchased it, and the landlord did not tell me. Yet he had worked for this park for some 20+ years, so he fully was aware of the nature of the owners. But like many park managers or landlords, he does what they want him to do; it doesn’t matter if it is illegal or unethical. He wants to keep his cozy regular home in the park and get paid for doing nothing except collecting the rent each month and telling the people who are renting to clean up their own properties (which the park is supposed to do unless you own your place).

There are so many other areas of elder abuse I have seen and experienced with my own eyes in these parks, and I am one of them also now since I too have been unable to get my title for my home despite my many attempts to get it from the owners, and also having gone through every local level – the HCD, the City of Yucaipa, Legal Aid, Elder Abuse, Code Enforcement, and many others, all to no avail for some 1-1/2 years (or close to that). Two of my neighbors also have similar problems: one who has not had his for nine years, and the other one who is being expected to pay back taxes on the land to get his title when it has not been in his name at all. And that is the HCD saying he has to do that.

I became extremely depressed these last months. I want to get my significant other, Richard and myself out of this park and into a small home in Arizona with its own land. California is not a good place to live anymore. Frustration with feeling once again that I had absolutely no power was a truly a biggie for me.

Then one day when I was looking at many of the criminal justice publications I receive on the Internet, I came across a National Elder Fraud Number. Without waiting a second, I dialed the number, and for once, I began to get answers at a higher level of State and Federal places that can help. Also, the people who run this organization are mandated reporters, and this time the reports are not going under the shelves. I have been given the numbers of a lot of agencies at a much higher level from which I will be able to help. Also, the people at the National Elder Fraud are coming from another part of California to visit me and to make sure that everything is followed up.

For once, I felt empowered with my newly found knowledge. We can never have too much of that regardless of our training or our needs. And we should never give up just because someone says so. I trusted that landlord, and I gave him $4,000 up front down and paid the other $4,000 over the years $100 a month along with my monthly space rent and utilities. I never missed a payment, and I had to pay the insurance too for the home, not realizing I would not get much at all without that title. That might not be much for a lot of people, but for me, it was my last savings I had since I had to stop working because of the cancer and the PTSD.

Right now our country is in probably the worst situation we have had since WWII politically, health-wise, and education-wise. People are panicking and acting totally irrational and it is because they don’t know what to believe. They think they have no power to do anything about it. This is NEVER true. There is always a higher resource, and in this case, it might take us awhile to find it, but I think we can all empower ourselves by at least trying to find something else that can help this situation.

I know that I have read several articles by Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent, as well as Stuart France, founders of The Silent Eye Mystery School, and I have learned a lot of things I could not otherwise find on the Internet such as the very nature of viruses like that of the Corona Virus and bacteria since the beginning of time, and many really good articles related to the values we hold in this life.

I also want to acknowledge Patty Fletcher and Claire Plaisted for keeping things going for all of us bloggers and authors during this challenging time. Thank you one and all by giving us higher resources we can learn from and take back the care and maintenance of our own lives. Just as that money for my home is the last thing I own that can help me and my hubster move forward, so are your bodies, minds and souls the most critical things you have in this life. Take good care of them and treasure each and every moment with your loved ones that you can enjoy now.

I still think of my friend Sue Vincent and her amazing son, who was wounded severely enough to kill someone, but he has recovered slowly over the years, and there they were out planting flowers by their little pond, and Nick, her son, insisted on carrying some mulch for the garden for him mum. Take back your power; it is waiting for you.

For the Children

pexels-Source 1photo-556669

I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.

I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.

I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.

But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.

Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.

One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!

I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.

In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.

It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.

I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.

Is this familiar to you?

Bars and Melody – “Hopeful” – courtesy Pixabay.com

I like to write upbeat things for all of you, but this is heavy in my heart and I want you all to read how important this message is, and to do everything you possibly can to help.

When we think of bullying, we automatically think of it happening only to children, but it is not at all true. It happens at all ages, all races, and all cultures. It happens in schools, in workplaces, and out in society in general, as well as with seniors in senior living centers. It happens in the military and in places of worship and spirituality. There is not a place that is safe from bullying.

I have seen it first-hand and have been subjected to it as a child, as an adult working, and definitely as a senior in my living places. And I have seen first-hand what it does to others in my area, from 13-year-olds committing suicide to adults jumping off the overpasses on freeways, or on a lesser scale, children taking away the food of other children or soiling or tearing their clothes, or sometimes breaking glasses or destroying the school books and tools of others. It is perhaps one the most widespread things happening to people today.

What can you and I do to help stop this horror? What causes it? Are the people doing the bullying lacking in what they need to the point where they are taking it out on others? Lack of food, clothing, or perhaps lack of appreciation of them as human beings at home or on the job or jealousy of them in their neighborhoods when they have achieved something good. A man is bullied in his own yard by neighbors and by the police as he picks up trash. The newspapers are full of these situations.

Let today be the day I stop any bullying I see or hear. Let me be brave and not afraid to face the bullies, even those who have bullied me. Let me not wait for someone else to do it. Let it begin with me. And so it is. Thank you most kindly.